Milkrun #NPPF Draft drops ‘+20% rule’ and includes 18 month to 2 year transition

Interesting leak in the Telegraph – but note that not yet agreed by other departments.  The only new concession is the dropping of the complex +20%/6 year supply rule which the department was never able to properly explain never really understood itself.  Though I suspect it may contain a reference to current best practice of including a buffer based on local evidence for sites that don’t come forward.

All the other changes – definition of sustainable development etc. long since flagged up, note no change at all flagged up on the issue of protection of the wider countryside.

By leaking now it seems the DCLG may be seeking to either minimise Treasury changes or have the public see the chancellors fingerprints if they are clumsily forced.  The reference to being ‘watered down by …’liberal democrat ministers’ could not have come from a civil servant.  As ever coalition policy making gets played out in public.


The final draft of the new planning rules, which will be published later this month, includes greater protections for heritage sites and the environment.

The new rules remove the need for councils to set aside land for 20 per cent for more housing than they need over a five year period.

The Government will also give councils up to two years to prepare for the change so they can identity and protect green spaces.

Ministers want to replace over 1,200 pages of planning guidance with a new 52 page document called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to clear away red tape and to stimulate development and economic growth.

However, campaigners are concerned that the draft NPPF, which includes a new definition of the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, puts communities at risk of large scale development and parts of rural England.

The Daily Telegraph is also urging ministers to rethink the reforms. Ministers hope that rebalancing the reforms will ease fears of countryside campaigners that the changes will give developers a “licence to build”.

The final draft is being circulated in Whitehall for approval by other department. There are concerns, however, that concessions to campaigners could be watered down by Treasury officials or Liberal Democrat ministers.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has yet to agree to the final draft along with Ed Davey, the climate change secretary, George Osborne, the Chancellor and Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary.

Treasury officials are understood to fear that the planning rules will dampen economic growth, while Mr Cable said in a leaked letter to the Prime Minister that planning policies inherited from Labour were damaging the economy.

He cited a recent example when Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government secretary, turned down the redevelopment of Pinewood Studios because it was on green belt land.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the new NPPF includes an explicit “brownfield first” commitment, which will require councils to favour development in urban areas ahead of rural parts of England.

It is also likely to include better protections for heritage sites, and a more balanced definition of “sustainable development” taking environmental concerns into account.

Communities will be given an 18 month to two year “transition period” to prepare for the changes and develop local plans, which will set out where building can take place in their areas.

MPs on the Communities and Local Government committee, together with the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England have called for the NPPF to be “rebalanced”.

Last night the committee’s chairman Clive Betts MP, who is pressing for a debate in the Commons next month on the new NPPF, told The Daily Telegraph: “We should have a document that allows planning of the right development in the right place. The draft document did not do that. Let’s get a document that does not have growth at any price.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “What is important is that the final NPPF has a strong definition of sustainable development, giving equal weight to social, environmental and economic considerations.”

He warned that if the Treasury got the new NPPF wrong then planning policy would “will become a battlefield and it will become much harder to get the development the country needs”.

A National Trust spokesman added: “We have agreed all along that the planning system needs sensible reform, and we remain hopeful that the final policy will deliver a properly balanced approach to growth.

“An effective plan-led system can deliver the stability and consistency needed for businesses to prosper and communities to thrive, without detriment to our environment and landscapes.”

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The Government has said the final Framework would be published by the end of March. We are not going to comment on speculation about its content ahead of publication.”

‘flutters of amazement and dismay among top officials’ at idea of privitizing policy advice

Sir Jeremy idea at the Insitute of Government this eek has certainly caused a kerfuffle.

Sue Cameron Telegraph

Small wonder if this has caused flutters of amazement and dismay among top officials. “It sounds like the outsourcing of government – if not the outright privatisation of the state,” said one senior figure incredulously. “Will Bupa or the British Medical Association be allowed to bid for the policy advice contract on health? How will it work?” Another insider sighed and said: “Sounds like Jeremy’s flying a kite without having put his finger up to see which way the wind is blowing.”

Sir Jeremy, speaking at the London-based Institute for Government, stressed that his ideas were at an early stage and his plan for action “would not be published for several months”. His plans face tough scrutiny. For a start, top civil servants insist that Whitehall has not had a monopoly on advice to ministers for years. Advice pours in – from think tanks, paid lobbyists, unpaid campaigners, academics and pundits. Ministers are overwhelmed by it. What’s more, good civil servants ensure that ministers know what such people are saying and what is happening overseas…

Unlike civil servants, outsiders – whether consultants, think tanks or special advisers – are not appointed purely on merit, and their first loyalty does not have to be to the public interest. There must always be room in policy-making for outsiders and for people like Steve Hilton, whose wacky ideas are occasionally touched with brilliance. Yet brilliant eccentrics should be in a good university or a think tank – not on the public payroll with an office in No 10. Likewise, consultants and others should still contribute to policy-making – but at a distance. If they are brought in too close, the public will suspect their motives.


Some Small Planning Good News – Sim City is Back!

Maxis yesterday announced a major reboot of their Sim City game franchise – at last after 9 years.

Im a great fan but in the last few versions it stank as a game and as a realistic model of cities.  having to micromanage sewers and funding individual school budgets was a pain.

The developers have stated that it is inspired by ‘tiltshift‘ an inspired idea (lets hope they do this properly in post processing the graphics).

So what are the feature requests?

1.  Make it fully 3D rather than Pixel Art

Which with modern graphic cards can be taken as given.  It should also enable you to drive through streets and walk through your city.

2.  Make it a Global Game

Sim City has been very American.  It easily enabled you to design grids and car orientated cities.  It was less good at curvy streets and what urban designers call ‘Barcelona Blocks’ perimeter blocks of irregular shape where buildings front the street and their is a back courtyards. The designers say it will have curvy streets and zoning, so fingers crossed.  They key test though is whether buildings will adapt to those streets. it did not enable you to design pedestrian orientated streets with a mix of modes.  It did not enable you to mix uses vertically in a fine grain manner of the kind you find in most historic cities.  It didnt simulate the rapid chaotic urbanism you find in the growth of most global cities as we now find in the developing world.  Sim City never had shoddily built concrete buildings and there was never slums in Sim City.  This reduces it relevance to a global audience.

3.  Properly simulate the economic trade-offs and benefits

If you spend lots on energy/commuting then you will have less money for real estate.  A city that spends on energy by consuming it in automobile use will be poorer and vulnerable to changes in gas prices.  But also larger denser cities with have economies of scale.  They say everything will be simulated in Sim City – lets hop so – but not everywhere can be artists cities as otherwise the price of sprockets will rocket – so will the simulation model the economic interactivity between cities and between cities with a disparity of natural resources and accessibility.  The developers say they have a new sim model that will enable people, buildings etc all to be modelled so lets hope so.

4.  Integrate with Other Software

Will you be able to export or import to openstreet map or esri?  Will you be able to bring in or out buildings to sketch-up, google earth or city engine?  If it did there would be a nerdgasm from the Geo-community.

5. Simulate Water Cycle infrastructure in a new way

In Simms cities of the past you had to lay individual pipes, tedious and missing the key issues about what type of infrastructure to have.  Do you go for septic tanks, sewers or solid waste collection (as in china).  Do you go the extra cost and seperate fould and surface water drainage, and if you dont in heavy rain you will have pollution episodes.  It shuld also be realitically expensive to dig up and relay/redesign sewers.

6.  Allow for Total Streets and Shared Spaces

In CityCad urban planning software, and autocad civil 3D you can design a cross section of street and set out you own road hierarchy based on these typologies which will automatically be laid out when you set down the street network.  But it should go further and allow for ‘naked streets’ and shared spaces where footways are not always explicitly designed.  Pedestrians should be treated and modelled seriously.  All car trips should begin and end with modelled pedestrian trips.  Pedestrians sims should avoid busy dangerous roads, as should cyclist sims.  Indeed you should be able to design cycle priority.  The amount of people visting an area by foot should reflect its walkability and the number of attractions (trip ends).

7. Allow for Procedural Building designs and Design Codes

If they are using a procedural rules for buildings then you should be able to set them realistically in a form based zoning type of design code.  For example 50% of the building must be to the street line, maximum and minimum setbacks and plot coverage.  Enable setting of floor area ratio and bonuses.  Enable for example mandating stoops and roof forms.  Have a look at some of the best form based codes for inspiration as well as the rules in City Engine.

8. Allow for Design Review and Heritage Conservation

At the amount all you can do is zone.  Why not allow you to set up design reviews by zones so you can reject designs until you get one you like.  Another realism amendment.  Similarly allow building by building and zone by zone preservation rules.  Of course with this there will be economic trade offs.  Cheaper older buildings might encourage gentrification by sims.  Also allow for abandoment, and ‘urban prairies’.

9. Treat Hazards Seriously

This was lost after Siim city 2000.  But a proper 3d game will able serious treatment of rivers and flooding.  How much money do you spend on levees?  Do you build above a 50, year, 100 year, 200 year flood lin?  Do you make buildings more expensive and earthquake resistant or just take the economic hit and rebuild.  Poor people might build favellas on slopes, which could be vulnerable from flash flooding. These are the day to day concerns of urban planning globally.

10. Allow a choice, to Plan or let the market reign

At the moment buildings only happen where you zone.  You should also have the choice at the beginning to nave the alternative that sims can build anything, anywhere unless you place restrictions in.  You might then have mines, blast furnaces, factoriesand slums springing up at the beginning of the game and you having to deal with the consequences.

Punk Economics – the Alternative to Austeristy

The troubvle is terms like stock-flow consistent economics, monetrary circuit economics and post0-keynsian economics were never going to grab the public imagination.  So thanks to David Mc Williams for coming up with the terms ‘punk economics’ I can go with that, and these animations.If as Osbourne says we have ‘run out of money’ why are we creating trillions of it for the banks?

Telegraph #NPPF Editorial – Important that mistake of Treasury Interference in Draft Not Repeated

Telegraph Editorial

After months of debate, the Government will shortly respond to the consultation exercise on its draft National Planning Policy Framework. As readers of this newspaper will be aware, this document has been dogged by controversy, though it need not have been. The original framework was drawn up about a year ago after painstaking discussions between Whitehall officials, countryside groups and planning experts. It seemed to bring together successfully the various competing interests by recognising the need to encourage development in the countryside beyond the Green Belt, but without creating an urban sprawl.

But by the time the official policy emerged, it was markedly different from the earlier drafts. In particular, the Treasury was determined that the planning system should be regarded as an arm of economic policy, which led to the inclusion of a “presumption in favour of sustainable growth” and an automatic approval for development where a local plan did not exist. This approach was deeply flawed, which is why this newspaper has urged the Government to reconsider a campaign that has been widely supported in the country.

Commendably, ministers have listened to the criticisms, working up a revised document that seeks to restore the previous equilibrium. Once again, however, it has been sent to the Treasury; so it is important that the same mistakes are not repeated. A streamlined planning policy that is more accessible to the public – and better reflects the competing interests of the economy, the environment and communities – is what everyone should be striving to achieve.

The second paragraph though is in error and seeking to rewrite history.  Certainly the Treasury interfered with the draft – however it was not a carefully balanced version seeking to protect the countryside – thats just DCLG SPAD spin to pin the blame on the awfulness of the draft on the Treasury.  The painstaking discussions did not begin until after the consultation period began, until then many groups were frozen out. Indeed the twin pillars the editorial refers to, the presumption and automatic approval where there is no local plan come straight from Open Source Planning, from before the election and Treasury interference.What is interesting is the game being played with between the DCLG and TReasury down to the wire.  The CCLG seem to have taken the tactical decision to delay the ‘milkrun’ final consultation of the Treasury until the last minute and publish this coming Monday preempting the Chancellor, this seems to now have been blown out of the water.

Sean Spears Guardian #NPPF Letter Policy Exchanges ideas are ‘half baked’

Guardian – here here

Patrick Wintour is made breathless by what he sees as Policy Exchange‘s intellectual fecundity (Compassionate Conservatives find it’s time to think again, 6 March). It is good for a thinktank to generate lots of ideas, but it helps if they are good ideas. On housing and planning most of Policy Exchange’s ideas are half‑baked.

Whatever the question, liberalisation is the answer. The planning system was created “as part of a drive for a socialist utopia in the 1940s” and therefore needs to be dismantled. Those living close to developments should be given cash to persuade them to accept it: planning out, bribery in. Northern cities such as Liverpool and Bradford are beyond hope and their residents should be encouraged to move south – an idea David Cameron described as “insane”.

In their enthusiasm for dismantling the planning system the bright young men in Policy Exchange remind me not of sober, pragmatic Tories, but of the ideologically driven Trots I encountered in my youth. Driven by messianic zeal, they skew the evidence to fit their world view – policy-based evidence making, not evidence-based policy.

All this would be fun if it wasn’t for the fact that Policy Exchange has had a big influence over the government’s thinking on planning. It is imperative that, in finalising the national planning policy framework, ministers listen to those with real experience of planning – including the Conservative local authorities across England who have sought to improve the draft – and not just to bright ideas that should never have left the seminar room.
Shaun Spiers 
Chief executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Daily Mail – Osbourne to Defy Furious Opposition on the #NPPF

Just rehashing the Newsnight story – but the Treasury Reaction is interesting tackling the unbalanced issue head on.

Osborne to defy rural rebels on planning amid ferocious opposition against countryside development

  • The Chancellor believes shake-up is vital for growth and jobs
  • The move is expected to provoke fury among countryside campaign groups

Planning reforms are to go ahead despite ferocious opposition from countryside campaigners, it emerged last night.

George Osborne is reported to be determined to include in his Budget the most contentious element of the plans – a presumption in favour of planning consent.

The Chancellor is said to believe the shake-up is vital for growth and jobs.

The move will provoke fury among groups such as the National Trust and English Heritage, which say the reforms will sound the death knell for the countryside.

Ministers will, however, strengthen safeguards to protect green belt land and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Campaigners reject the idea that councils should approve all building projects unless there is a strong reason to refuse them.

The proposals represent the biggest change in planning law in 50 years and aim to ‘dramatically’ simplify the system – 1,000 pages of policy will be cut to just 52.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who has questioned the reforms, said last night: ‘Ripping up the planning system as it currently is, is not going to lead to more development.

‘It might lead to a few developers making a lot more money, but it is not going to lead to a net increase in development.’

A Treasury spokesman promised proposals that will ‘shift the balance in favour of sustainable development, jobs and growth.’

So Treasury ensures #NPPF ‘ is to be hardly altered from its first incarnation’ – all the assurances were for nothing

Allegra Stratton formerly of the Guardian and now of Newsnight has the explosive story tonight.

The Qt is that Pickles was late in presenting it to Cabinet, it was due at last weeks growth review special cabinet, and because of that Osbourne tore a strip off Eric Pickles and following that DCLG and Treasury officials met yesterday (Monday and it seems the Treasury insisted the document the document is ‘hardly altered from its first incarnation’, and that ‘the Treasury is pushing for it to be implemented incredibly quickly’ which I take to mean no transition period – despite all the mollifications and reassurances.

Clearly the lateness of a final draft for agreement has been a disaster for the DCLG and underlines how poor the project management of the process has been.  Indeed I understand that Greg Clark has effectively project managed the process himself – and perhaps understandably given the complexity of the issues and him not having a planning background failed to deliver.  There might be little point sending in FOI request for risk registers or project board meeting minutes because the process is nowhere near that structured.

Indeed what is shocking is that the process with the Treasury had not been settled on the key drafting issues some weeks ago.  This indicates the total lack of modern cross departmental working and perhaps even a fear not to fully share the DCLGs own final draft until the last minute – a tactical mistake.

Indeed it is not even 100% clear if the document will be ready in a professional form by budget day.  The story seems to indicate just hack together something very close to the original given the lack of time and the absolute nature of the budget day deadline just produce a more explicit glossary to tighten up on definitions is a very very very bad idea but a typical civil service cock up compromise if this is the case. Mixing up policy and glossary’s is always a disaster – just look what happened with the attempt to define away Brownfield land.

Indeed this leak has the DLCG fingerprints all over it.  The last few weeks has seen absolute silence from them not the slightest leak or SPAD briefing.  My guess and the guess of many commentators was that there would be some concessions and clearer drafting so that the critics would be pleasantly surprised when the read it, despite the likely extreme ‘supply side’ rhetoric from Osborne on budget day.

The insistence by the Treasury on the original draft – possibly to save face and not admit they can’t draft effective planning documents – seems to have blown this plan off track and led someone at DCLG to brief Newsnight.  It seems to be the same plan as with the Practitioner Draft – its so bad just publish it and then ministers will realise that they need to do it again properly.  Only this time it seems to be agree it, see the appeal system clog up and then and only then will George Osbourne realise that supply side reforms do not come about through clogging up the regulatory channel.

So what was the point of the consultation?  Endless mollifications were given that the government was listening and alternative wordings were being positively received and actively considered.  Were we lied to or was it just that the Treasury was going to throw its toys out of the pram and not even listen to alternative suggestions because the Chancellor had been so adamant and couldnt be seen to be climbing down in any way?  Indeed Greg Clark comes out of this very badly.  If he had been bullish about the NPPF in a manner reminiscent in a previous age of Kenneth Baker introducing the poll tax then at least he may have got some respect from his opponents.  Now he just looks both weak and duplicitous; trying to be your best friend whilst at the end of the day shafting you.

If those engaged with the DCLG have been treated so shodilly then my guess is that this will put an end to all positive engagement with the DCLG and organisations will revert to full on campaigning mode, and if it is as bad as the story suggest its no longer an issue of campaigning for changes but trying to force the situation where the whole NPPF.  That is why the whole attitude of the chancellor is counter-productive.  In many ways it makes things simpler for campaigners as it would not be an issue of tweaking the final document through amendments on, perhaps, an opposition day motion, giving the commons vote promised in Open Source Planning, but rather a straight up or down vote which it would only take a few dozen conservative rebels to force a government defeat.